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15 January 2021

A university in Milan, an unexpected meeting on a Mexican beach and here comes the birth of Studiopepe. The architecture and design agency of d’Arianna Lelli Mami and Chiara Di Pinto does not owe its success to chance. Since 2006, these two designers have been able to distil their taste for honest colours, so-called « archetypal » shapes and their eclectic vision of design that mixes poetry and rigour.

For the Milan Design Week 19, they appropriated the 400 m2 of an old gold factory with an old-fashioned charm for their project « THE ARCANISTES – THE FUTURE IS UN / WRITTEN ». They present « custom-made pieces, works of art, re-editions of mythical creations, and installations in which the relationship between materials, archetypes and the power of symbols is deepened ». Welcome to the Arcanists.


Where are we?


« This was previously a large industrial area: an old gold factory dating back to the 1900s. We saw this place for the first time on January 30th, which left us only two months to prepare the exhibition… »

The genesis of the project? 

« It is an investigation into the link between materials and the power of symbols. The Arcanists were the first chemists, the only ones to know the formulas for the manufacture of porcelain and materials in general, such as glass and metals. Arcana also appears on the 21 tarot cards, where it represents the universal unconsciousness. These different elements have nourished our interpretation (very personal and multidisciplinary!) of the interaction between material and divination ».

« We have conceived this exhibition as a journey punctuated by designer pieces, creations from our studio, re-editions of mythical design pieces, works by multiple artists, a combination of materials… to create a journey that ends in a clean room in the basement: the Società Mantica. It is a society of fortune-tellers for whom reading tarot cards is linked to symbols, materials and discoveries (including our own). »

« We wanted to share our projects and the things we appreciate elsewhere than in a sanitized white cube. The idea is to create a special environment for visitors to fully experience the Arcanist story. »

A discovery?

« Recycled marble! We love the beauty of its imperfections and its strange shapes. This is the charm of raw materials… »

An impactful movement?

« The Bauhaus, we are very sensitive to this movement because it involved all aspects of life. We like the idea of a complete vision that goes from the small, a priori insignificant details to the great principles.

It goes in all directions: what you do, what you design, with projects for architecture of course, but also for parties, costumes, schools and even politics. It’s really a reference. »

An impactful philosopher?

« Jung inspired us a lot on this project, he studied the Arcana and the archetypes that the maps represent. We read him a lot (and then re-read him again!) for this project. »

A mythical place?

« Ancient temples. Often, on their pediments, one can read the sentence « Know thyself » . The answers are already within us, just reveal them by asking the right questions. »

A quote for this project?


“There are two different types of people in the world, those who want to know, and those who want to believe.” F. Nietzsche

Twin Peaks by David Lynch

An inspiring film?

« This year we didn’t use a particular film reference to imagine the exhibition (last year Stanley Kubrick’s « Mechanical Orange » was one of our main drivers). But some people tell us that the place reminds them of David Lynch, especially the space downstairs. We watch films all the time, it « feeds » us visually. »

Florence & The Machine

A music to be listened to over and over again?

« Florence & The Machine, without hesitation. Her mother was a professor, a Renaissance specialist, and that’s why she called her daughter Florence. And apparently it made an impression on her: she distills references and symbols of that period into her songs. »


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